Leaders Worldwide Call for a UN Parliament

By Byron BelitsosAfrican-Union-1

The latest updates from our friends at the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) is encouraging for all who favor world democracy. The first piece of good news is that on May 13, the continental parliament of Africa (known as the Pan-African Parliament)—led by its president, Nkodo Dang of Cameroon—formally called on the African Union and Africa’s governments to support the creation of a UNPA. Related good news also comes out of Germany. A motion passed by the governing coalition of the German parliament calls on Angela Merkel’s government “to examine the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly.” Plus, there’s more strong support out of Europe: The EU’s own foreign minister, Federica Mogherini, gave strong support to a UN Parliamentary Assembly in a speech in Rome at an EU diplomatic event. “UN Parliamentary Assembly could strengthen the link between a system of global governance, which is remote by definition, and a citizenship that includes a global dimension,” said Mogherini. It is well worth noting in addition that late last year over 1,400 current and former lawmakers from more than one hundred countries and hundreds of renowned personalities from politics, science and genuine canadian pharmacy , cultural life and civil society signed an international appeal urging the United Nations and its member states “to establish a Parliamentary Assembly at the United Nations.” The appeal and the list of signatories was presented to the President of the 70th UN General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft, by Andreas Bummel, founder of the UNPA.

 


NOTE: The Democratic World Federalists are committed to expressing a wide range of views on the vision of creating a peaceful, just, and sustainable world through a democratic World Federation. The views expressed in this article represents that commitment and not necessarily our official position.


The San Francisco Promise

UN Founding in SF

By Bob Hanson
DWF Board Member

Last year the United Nations celebrated its seventieth anniversary. This documentary created just after the U.N.’s founding in 1945 in San Francisco provides a feeling for the hopefulness of those days. Since then, the UN has accomplished much good, but of course it never lived up to its potential as the organization that would put an end to war. One key reason is the veto power vested in the Security Council. A majority of the nations present at the founding of the U.N. objected to the proposal that the winners of World War II be given the power of the veto. They were told in reply that their objection to the veto could be addressed by a formal charter review that could be held no later than 10 years from the UN’s founding. So this provision was included as Section 109(3) of the charter. But this so-called “San Francisco promise” was never fulfilled—simply because the veto-wielding members of the Security Council have managed to keep it from happening. The U.S., Russia, China, Great Britain, and France prefer having a situation where nothing will happen unless they approve of it.  

The veto is profoundly unfair and undemocratic in that it enables the holders to prevent any actions against themselves or their friends. This power to veto is an affront to the rights of the other member-nations of the United Nations and the reason why it cannot solve many of the world’s major global challenges. The composition of the Security Council is also the subject of much legitimate complaint. Why should France and Great Britain have permanent seats, while Brazil, Germany, Japan and India only occasionally get to sit on the body and don’t have a veto when they are on it?

To improve the efficacy of the United Nations, several key actions need to be considered through charter review. These include: 

1) Form of a world parliament which could enact world law. 2) Enable the World Court of Justice to have the power to enforce its decisions. 3) Develop a volunteer rapid-deployment force (armed and unarmed) which could put out brushfire wars and do effective peacekeeping instead of relying on national armies—a provision recommended by all Secretary Generals from Trygve Lie to Kofi Annan.  4) Create mechanisms capable of dealing with problems such as climate change, nuclear proliferation  and endangered species, which are issues that recognize no national boundaries.

Another obvious shortcoming of the present U.N. is that in the General Assembly, India—with over a billion citizens—has the same one vote as Monaco, which has a population of about 30,000. When the U.N. Charter was adapted at San Francisco in 1945, no one expected it to remain unchanged forever. The world has changed a lot in these seventy years and the United Nations must change if it is to be relevant in the 21st Century. The U.N. needs far reaching reforms to better deal with ending war, preventing global warming and solving dozens of other worldwide problems. 

Remember the San Francisco Promise! 

*For more information, contact the Democratic World Federalists at [email protected] or the Center for United Nations Constitutional Research (CUNCR) at [email protected]  

 

NOTE: The Democratic World Federalists are committed to expressing a wide range of views on the vision of creating a peaceful, just, and sustainable world through a democratic World Federation. The views expressed in this article represents that commitment and not necessarily our official position.

Needed Now: UN Charter Review

UN Charterby Bob Hanson
DWF Board Member

This year, the United Nations celebrates its 70th anniversary, but with a very mixed record of accomplishments. It has done much good by bringing together representatives of the world’s nations, but it has never lived up to its potential to—as the preamble to the United Nation Charter states—“save future generations from the scourge of war.” A key reason for the UN’s impotence, of course, is the veto power of the five original members of the Security Council. But few people know that this provision was never meant to be a permanent feature of the United Nations. I have begun to experiment with a petition to change this and other crippling features of the UN’s operation through what is know as a formal Charter Review. Read on to find out more about it.

History records that the majority of nations who were in attendance at the original charter discussions in San Francisco objected when the veto was first proposed by the winners of World War II. According to dissertation research by our former Board member, Shahriar Sharei, the delegates were told that, if they okayed the veto for now, this issue could be addressed by a formal Charter Review, which would happen no later than ten years from the founding of the UN. This guarantee was included as Sections 108 and 109 of the charter. It’s known as “the San Francisco Promise”—a promise that was never fulfilled because the veto-wielding members of the Security Council have managed to keep a charter review from ever happening.

The U.S., Russia, the UK, and the other favored-five like having a situation where nothing will happen in the world unless they approve. This makes as much sense as enabling the Governor of Texas to veto any actions of the United States Congress. The veto is profoundly unfair and undemocratic, in that it enables the holders to prevent any actions against themselves or their friends. While the veto has only been used a couple of dozen times—primarily by the U.S. and the Soviet Union—the threat of using it has time and time again kept the Security Council from taking much needed action to prevent conflict.

The composition of the Security Council itself is also the subject of much complaint. Why should France and Great Britain have permanent seats, while large and populous nations like Brazil, Japan, and India only occasionally get to sit on the body and don’t have a veto when they are on it?

Some of the other actions which need to be considered through a formal Charter Review include: 1) formation of a world parliament which could enact world law; (2) enabling the World Court of Justice to have the power of enforcement; (3) developing a volunteer rapid deployment force which could put out brushfire wars and do effective peacekeeping instead of relying on national armies—as recommended by all Secretary Generals from Trygve Lie to Kofi Annan; (4) creating better mechanisms capable of dealing with problems such as climate change or radioactive fallout, which recognize no national boundaries.

To strengthen the U.N.’s capacity to act, the idea of a United Nations parliamentary assembly is currently being promoted. It is based upon the idea that ordinary citizens and non-governmental organizations should have a voice in global

While we already have an International Court of Justice, it has little authority. The U.S. withdrew from compulsory jurisdiction in 1986, after the court ruled that we were in violation of international law for our actions in Nicaragua. Other countries have also refused to accept the rulings of the court, which can only be enforced by the Security Council. You can imagine how well that works if the nation ruled against is one of the veto-holding members of the council or a friend of one of them. An example is when the court ruled that Israel’s infamous wall of separation that was built on occupied Palestinian soil was illegal according to international law. Israel thumbed its nose at the court, knowing full well that the U.S. would make sure the ruling wasn’t enforced.

Another obvious shortcoming of the present U.N. is that in the General Assembly, India with over a billion citizens has the same one vote as Monaco, which has a population just slightly larger than Walnut Creek, CA, the town in which I live.

When the U.N. Charter was adapted at San Francisco in 1945, no one expected it to remain unchanged forever. The world has transformed in these 70 years and the United Nations must change if it is to be relevant in the 21st Century. Giving up a bit of our national sovereignty is a small price to pay for finally achieving a world capable of settling differences short of war. The world has gotten steadily smaller and we are all global citizens, whether we want to recognize it or not.

Bob Hanson can be contacted at: [email protected]


NOTE: The Democratic World Federalists are committed to expressing a wide range of views on the vision of creating a peaceful, just, and sustainable world through a democratic World Federation. The views expressed in this article represents that commitment and not necessarily our official position.